What is immunization?

Immunization is the process by which a person is exposed to a changed germ in order to fortify his or her defence system against that germ. You may be immunized actively through catching the disease, or passively through vaccines/shots. Your child needs shots for protection against deadly diseases that can present with rashes, fever, choking and coughing and that can cause brain damage, lung and heart problems, crippling disorders, deafness, blindness, vomiting, diarrhoea(running belly), and even death. Because of immunizations most parents of young children today have never seen a lot of these deadly diseases and therefore find it difficult to understand why it is important to protect against them. Vaccines are still given for three reasons:

Required Shots and Suggested Schedule

Birth–6 Weeks BCG
6 Weeks DPT/DT #1

Hep B #1

Hib #1
3 Months DPT/DT #2
Hep B #2
Hib #2
5–6 Months DPT/DT #3
Hep B #3
Hib #3
12 Months MMR #1
18 Months DPT/DT
MMR #2
4–6 Years DPT/DT
9+ Years HPV #1
HPV #2
10–11 Years Td/OPV




Immunization Policy Guidelines


  • All newborns should be given BCG vaccine at birth unless they are exhibiting obvious signs of HIV Infection.

  • Babies confirmed to be HIV infected should not be given OPV. IPV should be given instead.

  • Symptomatic HIV Infected children should not be given yellow fever vaccine.

  • Patients with cancer or leukemia who have not received chemotherapy or systemic steroids for at least 3 months should be given the usual vaccinations with the exception of OPV. Give IPV instead.

  • Premature babies should be given all vaccinations as per the usual schedule unless there are genuine contraindications to any of the vaccines. (Premature babies should be Immunized at the same chronological age as is recommended for full- term babies).

  • DPT vaccine (at least the primary schedule and the first booster) should be administered in the anterolateral aspect of the thigh using a needle equal to or greater than 5⁄8 inch in length. The buttocks or deltoid area is not recommended.

Speaking Points Regarding MMR Vaccine

MMR Vaccine

Q. A recent 60 Minutes story (Nov 12, 2000) suggested individual shots for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. Is this possible?

  • There is no scientific reason for, or benefit to, separating the shots.
  • By separating the shots, we are putting children (and pregnant women who may be exposed to them) at increased risk by extending the amount of time they go unvaccinated. Studies have shown that there is an increased risk that children may not receive all the shots they need if their parents have to 
schedule additional appointments for immunizations.
  • We are increasing our children's discomfort. Instead of receiving two shots, 
they will receive six shots.
  • At this time we simply do not have enough individual vaccine supply to make 
the individual shots possible. Again, children who don't receive the currently 
available combination shot are put at needless risk.
  • The fact is that the current evidence does not show that the MMR vaccine 
causes autism. We cannot let the media dictate our immunization schedule. Frightening reports should not carry more weight than hard, factual science.

October 2017 Statement from the Paediatric Association of Jamaica (PAJ) on the HPV Vaccine

The Paediatric Association of Jamaica (PAJ), as the medical professional organization responsible for the care of children and adolescents in Jamaica, feels obliged at this time to assist in bringing some clarity to the issue of HPV vaccination for Jamaican youth.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, with cancer of the cervix (neck of the womb) accounting for over 80% of all HPV-related cancers. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Jamaican women. 5-10% of persons infected with HPV will have a persistent HPV infection which may lead to a pre-cancerous lesion and later to cancer.

As of 31 March 2017, 71 countries globally have introduced the HPV vaccine in their national immunization programme for girls in an effort to reduce the incidence of cervical and other HPV-related cancer, including the USA (2006), Australia (2006), the United Kingdom (2008), Canada (2007-2009), Trinidad and Tobago (2013), and Barbados (2015). Countries such as Australia who have been administering the HPV vaccine for over a decade, have reported a decreased amount of pre-cancer of the cervix in women.

February 8, 2009

MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism

Brian Deer
THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab.The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.

Hepatitis B is a serious disease that affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV infection can vary in severity from a silent infection with no symptoms to a lifelong infection which may result in liver damage, liver cancer and even death. It is estimated that there are 2 billion cases of HBV infection worldwide, with 400 million people chronically infected and 1 million deaths each year from hepatitis B and its complications.

About 30% of those infected with HBV have no signs or symptoms. Some symptoms of acute (short-term) infection are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), fatigue and pain in joints and muscles. Acute illness is more common in adults than children. Most people are able to fight off the infection and clear the virus from their blood but this may take up to six months and they can pass on the infection to others while the virus is in their blood. Some people go on to develop a chronic (long-term) infection which can be very serious and often leads to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure or death. Chronic infection is more common in infants and children.

What every parent needs to know... 

What is Rotavirus? 
Rotavirus is a virus that infects the intestines and is the commonest cause of severe gastroenteritis in children younger than 5 years of age. Gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus is highly contagious. Most children get a rotavirus infection by age 2; almost all have it by age 5. It is possible to get infected with rotavirus more than once, but the first infection is usually the worst.

Whereas Rotavirus outbreaks occur seasonally in countries like the United states (about November through April), specific seasonal patterns in tropical climates like Jamaica are less pronounced.   

How is Rotavirus Spread?
Rotavirus is present in stools before the onset of diarrhea and can persist for 10-12 days after the onset of diarrhea. Rotavirus infections are usually spread through contact with stools from an infected person or by hand-to-mouth contact after a contaminated surface is touched. Rotavirus is an important cause of gastroenteritis in children attending daycare. The germ can live for days on objects such as toys and household surfaces that are not properly disinfected. The virus can still spread despite attempts at good hygiene such as handwashing and keeping a clean home as the virus cannot be killed by many of the common hand soaps and disinfectants available.

There is also a belief that some rotavirus infections are spread through the air.

What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a very infectious illness of childhood caused by the varicella virus. It has an incubation period of 10-21 days and is spread by direct contact with infected secretions and through the air when infected persons cough or sneeze. Infected persons may spread the disease before they know that they have the disease—even before the rash develops, and remain infectious until all the lesions are crusted over. Once a person has had the disease there is life long protection from Chickenpox.

The chickenpox begins with cold like symptoms and fever followed by its characteristic itchy rash which appears in crops over several days. They appear as red bumps that turn into blisters that cover the head and body more than the limbs. These then form crusts which eventually heal with little scarring. There may be as many as 300-500 blisters during a single infection. Children are not to return to school until all lesions are crusted over. Duration is usually 2-3 weeks.